Don’t let that face fool you! Nate had a great weekend selling ALPHAFolks t-shirts at the Sharon Springs Harvest Festival this past weekend.
Karen, who’s made a habit of attending craft fairs, suggested Nate (meaning Nate and me), sell shirts. For a reason I can’t quite fathom, outside of the fact that it was a great idea, I immediately agreed. Not only would it be the first craft show I’d work, hell, it would be the first craft show I’d attend.
We were up at 6 on Saturday morning to load the cars. Karen had lots of stuff – tables, jewelry, kritter jars (see her work at Karen Katz Studio on Facebook). Nate and I had it easier – six large boxes of shirts. By 8 we were raising tents and lugging our wares.
There are many reasons we encourage and support Nate’s art. It’s great, it gives him something to work on, will (hopefully) build a career, makes him understand that good work leads to good money, gives him a sense of pride and accomplishment and, because he is the artist after all, puts him in social situations and provides him with much needed interaction.
I sat next to him for seven hours on Saturday, another five on Sunday, and he was amazing. We had a pre-printed form with information about Nate – his bio and links to his Etsy shops. He’d grab one from the pile and wave them at a passerby who had no intention of stopping. After I explained that he should wait until a potential customer stopped at the table to hand out his material, he had it figured out.
“Here’s some information about me,” he’d say as he handed out his flyer. Even when it was someone he knew, he’d move to give them the sheet.
“Nate, they know you,” I’d tell him. Sometimes it would be a former teacher, sometimes a longtime family friend and sometimes it would be his grandmother. After a while, Nate would say to someone, “Do you know me?” before he would offer his paper. It’s funny, he’s never quite sure about people he’s met a thousand times.
We developed a system. A customer would request a shirt to buy, I’d dig it out, and then I’d tell Nate, “Bag it and tag it.” He’d less than delicately take the folded shirt and shove it into a little bag, tossing in an ALPHAFolks hangtag so people would be able to spread the word.
He was patient and well-behaved, mostly. Once he said something I didn’t quite catch to two tween girls who looked at him funny and laughed. I’m sure it was silly and innocuous and completely odd. I hate when his weirdness is so apparent. I talked him through how to comport himself – don’t be weird, don’t say silly things, the usual.
The vast majority of the time he was wonderful. Just to hear him say “What shirts do you want?” was incredible. I would introduce him as the artist, talk about his life, tell people about his strip mall art (we even had a strip mall shirt to sell) and Nate would answer questions from people who wanted to know more.
There were plenty of favorite moments. The reaction of buyers (40 sales in all) and non-buyers alike was all Karen and I hoped for. They’d see the faces on the table, or the shirts clothespinned to the inner supports of the tent and smile, laugh, remark on cute they were. ALPHAFolks was a smash hit.
Most of all, Nate liked the selling . “I’m getting more money,” he’d tell me after another shirt was purchased. When there was a lull in the afternoon, he grew concerned.
“So, does anyone else like me?” he asked. I tried to explain that how many shirts he sold wasn’t how he’d know whether people liked him or not.
“Everyone likes you Nate,” I told him, stating the obvious.